While opportunities in technology have exploded since 2000, fewer women today are actually pursuing computer science degrees than in the 1970s and 1980s, when women made up one quarter of all computer science students in the nation’s colleges and universities.
A generation ago, young women were pursuing computer science in earnest. Today women make up roughly 18 percent of the science workforce (or of those studying science). Why are there so few women studying computer science when it is increasingly in demand?
If you don’t look closely at the statistics, you might think that women’s participation in STEAM studies has been on the upswing in recent years. While women are at or near parity with men in several STEAM fields—notably in psychology and life sciences—in other disciplines girls’ numbers lag and further decline at almost every stage and age, consistently resistant to change.
For every 100 boys who go on to get bachelor’s degrees in computer science, engineering and physics, there are fewer than 20 girls. Based on data from the National Science Foundation, the gender gap carries across other STEM fields:
One reason for this is the insidious gender stereotyping and cultural messaging that tells girls that science is more of field for boys. That’s why it’s vital that we double down on encouragement, mentorship, and STEM education for girls.
I’d love to hear from you—if you’re a woman, how interested in science were you? What were your experiences? What about the girls in your life? Are you encouraging them to embrace the field? Thank you for sharing.